Everything You Wanted to Know About Baseball. 7 of 9, 74min
I used to deal in baseball cards, and some memorabilia in the mid to late 1980’s. Through an old client I had the opportunity to sell a very rare piece of baseball lore. The piece that I was fondest of was a rare document signed by Harry Wright. A founding father of the game. The document was a contract of some player that was signed by Harry Wright, the manager, circa 1870. It was written on Cincinnati Red Stockings letterhead.
I was impressed. I was so excited to be entrusted with this rare artifact. I remember saying to myself.
Oh my god. You have got to be kidding.
I was astonished. I was in awe. I felt like I was let into a special group.
I sold the piece in the range of $10,000 – $12,000 if memory serves me. But selling the piece did not compare to the dreams I had about the contract.
Imagine, what it must have been like 130 years ago on the ball field. The baggy uniforms, and the teeny gloves for the players. The pitchers, hurling both games of a double header was common practice and a home run was a rarity. Boy has the game changed.
Handling that document made the early times of baseball real for me. I visualized those men playing in those old ballparks. I felt like I was part of that time. I was having a dream. I was there, back in the late 1800’s sitting in the stands. Smiling and watching baseball – Back in the day.
Handling this artifact was like punching a time clock and never punching out. I was in baseball memorabiliaville.
I can see why some people are so zealous about baseball memorabilia. Their baseball fantasy made a lot more sense to me after I sold this Harry Wright piece.
My Top Baseball Teams of All Time (In no particular order) Part one
I have a great amount of respect for the top teams of baseball. Being able to excel at a very high level is what I love about what some of these teams accomplished.
1902 Pittsburgh Pirates
They had a record of 103 Wins and 36 Losses and won the Pennant by 27.5 games. They scored 775 runs and allowed 440 runs. The Pirates had five pitchers with 15 wins and eras of under 2.55. They were Jack Chesbro, Deacon Phillippe, Sam Leever, Jesse Tannenbill and Ed Doheny. Luckily for any opponent there was no World Series in 1902.
1903 Boston Pilgrims (Red Sox)
Captured the pennant by 14.5 games and won the World Series over a great Pittsburgh team five games to three. Had three twenty game winners, led by Cy Young.
1905 New York Giants
Record of 105 Wins and 48 Losses, Won World Series beating The Philadelphia As in five games. They scored 780 runs and gave up 505 runs. Had five pitchers with 15 at least 15 wins led by Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson and Joe McGinnity. Christy Mathewson won three World Series games. All three were shutouts. He pitched on October 9, 12, and 14th and gave a total of 14 hits and one walk in 27 innings. One of the greatest World Series pitching performances of all time by Mr Mathewson.
1927 New York Yankees
With a 110 and 44 record they won the pennant by 19 games and beat the Pirates 4-0 in the World Series. They scored 975 runs and allowed 599 runs. They numbered six future Hall of Fame players: Ruth, Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Earl Coombs, Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock. All three outfielders batted at least 337. They were Ruth, Combs and Bob Meusel.
1929 Philadelphia As
Won pennant by 19 games. Outscoring their opposition 901 to 615. Winning 104 games and losing 46 established themselves as one of the great teams. Won World Series 4-1 over the Cubs. Had five future Hall of Famers. They were Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane, Lefty Grove and Eddie Collins.
1932 New York Yankees
Won the pennant by 13 games, outscoring their opponents 1002 runs to 724 runs. Their starting lineup (excluding pitchers), had six future Hall of Famers and two All Stars. Hall of Famers are Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Bill Dickey, Joe Sewell and Earle Coombs. All Stars were Frank Crosetti and Ben Chapman. Their entire team of positional players had either All Stars or Hall of Famers. The pitching staff had three future Hall of Famers. Herb Pennock, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing. Won World Series over the Cubs 4 games to none.
1934 St Louis Cardinals
Won the World Series 4 games to 3 over a great Tiger team. Five future Hall of Famers on the team. Check out this group. Dizzy Dean, Dazzy Vance, Frankie Frisch, Leo Durocher and Joe Medwick.
1936 New York Yankees
Scored 1065 runs and allowed 731. Won pennant by 19.5 games and beat the NY Giants 4 games to 2 in the World Series. They had five players with at least 100 RBIs led by Lou Gehrig with 152. Joe DiMaggio had 125 and was followed by Bill Dickey with 109 RBIs. Tony Lazzeri and George Selkirk were tied with 107 RBIs. Six players batted over 300 and no regular had an average of less than 287. Six pitchers with at least 12 wins.
I had some great teams in this list. Wait till you see part two.
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My Top Baseball Teams of All Time – Part Two
1955 Brooklyn Dodgers
They won the pennant by 13.5 games. They scored 857 runs while allowing 650 runs during the regular season.Finally beat the New York Yankees in a great World Series. They had five future Hall of Famers on the team. Comprised of Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campenella, and Sandy Koufax. They proved that wait till next year finally can happen.
1961 New York Yankees
They won 109 games. They had six players with at least 20 home runs led by Mickey Mantle (54 home runs) and Roger Maris (61 home runs), At that time the Yankees set the record for most home runs in a year. Beat the Reds in the World Series four games to one. I remember watching this team play. I never thought they would lose. This team was a batting machine. One after another. They hit and hit and hit some more.
Because they finished the previous year 24 games
out of first place they were not picked very high in the beginning of the year to do well. They had most of the same players in 1969 that they had in 1968. Then somewhere somehow they seemed to create an aura of invincibility. This is one team for the ages. Once they got to the World Series you knew that they were a team of destiny and would win the trophy. This was a miracle team.
1976 Cincinnati Reds
Won all seven of their playoff games. Scored 857 runs while allowing 633. Seven pitchers with double digit wins. They won the pennant by ten games. They had three future Hall of Famers. They were Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez. This was an awesome team. If they had better pitching I think this team would have been one of the top five of all time.
1984 Detroit Tigers
Won the Eastern Division by 15 games. Started the season in first place and stayed there for the entire year. Winning 35 of their first 40 games. Would they ever lose? This was the best start to any season for ant baseball team I have ever seen.
1998 New York Yankees
Won their division by 22 games. Including playoffs they won 125 games and lost only 50 games for an overall 714 winning per cent age. They scored more than 300 runs than their opponents. 965 runs to the oppositions 656 runs. Ten players with at least 10 home runs.
So there you have it. My 14 greatest teams of all time. You may agree or disagree. But one thing is for sure. All these teams were pretty good.
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My Top Ten Favorite Baseball Movies
My top ten baseball movies consist of five movies on the list. That sounds pretty weird. There have been many movies with a baseball theme that I have liked, but there are only five I have loved. I will get to them soon.
Some of the ones I have liked are Bull Durham with Kevin Costner, a light hearted tale about a minor league season in North Carolina and the characters on and around that team. Bang The Drum Slowly with Robert DeNiro, Cobb with Tommy Lee Jones, Fear Strikes Out, Eight Men Out, A League of Their Own, Major League, and Rookie of the Year.
One thing that my favorites have in common is that I have been moved to tears. For similar and different reasons, I have been inspired or moved by some of the following scenes.
Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones.
When I think about this movie I always think how corny it was. Come on Cut down a corn field to create a baseball field. I have seen this movie approximately 15 times. It is the only movie I have seen in my adult life twice in the theaters. The scene that is so moving for me is when Kevin Costner asks his father to play catch. He is so awkward in his asking. He is so delighted when his father says sure. I melt whenever I see this scene.
The Rookie with Dennis Quaid
How does a man in his late 30s leave his family and start playing baseball in the minor leagues. He is fulfilling a dream. There are a couple of scenes in the movie that lead to a most uplifting moment. While playing in the minor leagues in the Tampa Bay organization Dennis Quaid (Playing pitcher Jim Morris) thinks he may have made a mistake by leaving his family to pursue a dumb dream. He is in anguish. He is not making any money pitching in the minors while his family is suffering at home with very little money coming into the house. Finally, after vacillating between playing baseball and going back to his wife to make a constant living he sees one of his teammates and asks him. Do you know what we are going to do today? His teammate looks puzzled. Dennis responds to his own question. We are going to play baseball today. With a big grin on his face Dennis captures the joy of playing baseball. I loved it.
The Natural with Robert Redford
The music in this flick was superb. Good versus evil. Robert Redford comes out of the hospital to play in the most important game of the year. As corny as this movie was I loved the scene at the end of the movie when he hits the ball into the lights and a shower of sparkling flashes illuminate the screen. I can still hear the music from that part of the movie, as he circles the bases. I get chills whenever I see this part of the film. This is also one of my wife’s favorites as well film.
Pride of The Yankees with Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright
One of my all time favorite players, Lou Gehrig, is played on the screen so superbly by Gary Cooper. The scene that gets to me every time is when Lou goes to see the doctor at the hospital because he feels a nagging injury not healing. As his wife nervously waits in the waiting room, Lou is examined and then given the fatal news of his illness. He is greeted by his wife as he leaves the examination room. She then asks him how it went. They embrace and he tells her its a little bump or bruise.
She seems to know without him telling her that this is serious. Oh my. I melt every time.
This following epic motion picture reminds me of a baseball season. Long, lasting and lovable.
Baseball by Ken Burns
Can you believe 18 hours of baseball footage? Still pictures from the 19th century. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Lou Gehrig, Buck O’Neil. Highlights on film. Dead ball era. Modern day. Pitchers, hitters. This movie had it all. The pictures were spectacular. There were so many stories that were told. I was amazed by Ken Burns’ commitment to get this movie done. That is what moved me the most.
So there you have it. I cannot thank the people ENOUGH that made these movies. I have been touched writing about their commitment, passion, and excellence.
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